A leggy robot named Cassie is the first bipedal machine to complete a 5K on a single charge with minimal help from humans. It’s a serious milestone for machine learning and robotics, but it’s also a bit creepy. For those who are terrified of AI overlords, there is but one concession here—Cassie’s more of a speedwalker than a runner.
Agility Robotics first launched the Cassie robot in 2017. It’s a “blind” robot, meaning that it doesn’t navigate with cameras, sonar, LIDAR, or any of that other stuff. Researchers taught Cassie to walk up and down stairs with the help of a tether (basically a leash) earlier this year, but the robot coached itself through its 5K marathon around the OSU campus and ran with minimal human intervention. In other words, the team had to help Cassie through an overheated computer, but there were no leashes or battery swaps.
In the end, Cassie ran a 5K around the OSU campus in 53 minutes and 3 seconds. As you can see in the above video, humans can make the same time by walking at a steady pace. If Cassie decides to go rogue, it probably won’t catch you … not yet, at least.
Cassie is quickly gaining skills through “deep reinforcement,” a machine learning method that relies heavily on goals and milestones. Previous experiences, including mistakes, help the robot learn to deal with any obstacles it may encounter when running. It will only get better at marathon runs, and when it learns to sprint, it may have more stamina and speed than the average person.
Agility Robotics hopes that Cassie will one day help deliver packages, help around homes, and perform other tasks that require human-like mobility. Of course, there aren’t a lot of jobs for Cassie just yet. You’ll have to wait a few years before the bipedal robot drops a pizza at your door.